At Apple’s annual developers conference on Monday, CEO Tim Cook unveiled a long list of new offerings – ranging from a high-tech supercomputer to an over-designed $999 monitor stand that drew audible groans from the audience.
But the biggest “product” revealed to Apple customers wasn’t a physical good at all, but an idea:
The Apple Watch won’t record ambient noise around its users any longer. Apple’s HomeKit system will encrypt any video captured by security cameras connected to it.
In general, Apple devices will have their surveillance-like features (or oversights) diminished greatly.
But the biggest announcement was the new “Sign in with Apple” directive – an option that developers can add to their apps so users can login without using a third-party username and password. It’ll work just like the other universal sign in options you might be used to from Facebook and Google, but without the harvesting of personal data.
Cook thinks this is a massive competitive advantage in a world where user information is packaged and sold as a luxury good to advertisers.
Companies like Facebook and Google led the way in this regard, making personal data their most valuable resource.
Apple, however, doesn’t need to get into that kind of business. They sell high-end electronic devices, after all.
But they didn’t stop there. They don’t just want to avoid data collection; they want to disrupt Facebook and Google’s info-streams in a major way.
Cook announced that starting with the release of iOS 13 this fall, any app that offers a Facebook or Google “sign in” option for convenience will also be required to offer Sign in With Apple.
By slotting in their own sign in solution, Apple hopes to cut the head off the snake-like competition by offering a superior privacy option that’s just as (if not more) convenient.
Even better, Apple will remind users of what Facebook and Google are doing with their data each and every time they sign in.
Apple users celebrated the pro-consumer news, while the rest of Silicon Valley rioted. Google and Facebook execs were quick to point out that what Apple was doing with its app store was borderline tyrannical – wresting away control from developers with artificially imposed “sign in” sanctions.
They’re calling for regulators to step in and give Cook & Co. a slap on the wrist.
But as usual, the FTC doesn’t care about near-monopolistic control of a marketplace, so long as it’s used to benefit the consumer.
Amazon’s recent maneuvers have certainly been unfair to the competition, but no one’s stepping in to stop them. Not the government, and certainly not customers who continue to reap massive benefits unavailable elsewhere.
Apple’s doing the exact same thing; delivering way more value than the competition through their captive marketplace (the App Store).
Facebook and Google will absolutely need to change course after this transformative event, which took place at a developer’s conference of all things, instead of a highly anticipated Apple keynote.
Cook scored a direct hit with this one, protecting both consumers and his brand in one fell swoop. Apple doesn’t need personal data to generate big business, so why not use that as a weapon for American tech dominance?
The “other guys” have officially been put on notice. The question now is, what will they do compete? At the moment, it doesn’t look like there are too many options on the table.
And for Google and Facebook shareholders, that should be extremely troubling news.